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Stem Cell Therapy: Study finds that autologous bone marrow disc injections significantly reduce lumbar disc pain

November 10, 2016

A study published last year (2015) in the scientific journal Stem Cells entitled “Percutaneous injection of autologous bone marrow concentrate significantly reduces lumbar discogenic pain through 12 months”, reported that patients suffering from chronic back pain due to degenerative disc disease who were treated by injecting their own bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) into their lumbar discs experienced significant pain reduction 12 months after treatment.

Woman Back PainDegenerative disc disease (DDD) is a term used to describe normal changes in spinal discs as one ages. Spinal discs separate the spinal vertebrae and act as shock absorbers that allow the spine to twist, bend and flex. DDD usually affects the discs in the lower back (lumbar) or the neck (cervical). 

DDD in lumbar discs can cause lower back pain, osteoarthritis, abnormal disc bulging (herniated disc) and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the tunnel-like space that holds the spinal cord), any of which can exert pressure on spinal nerves and the spinal cord causing pain and affecting nerve function.

BMAC contains mesenchymal stem cells and CD34+ stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to promote tissue growth including cartilage and CD34+ stem cells can promote tissue vascularization, thus increasing blood supply to new or damaged tissue.

The researchers studied 26 patients who were suffering from discogenic lower back pain. Patients were followed up at 3, 6, and 12 months.

After 12 months, 21 out of 26 patients experienced statistically significant improvements in pain scores and impairment. The most dramatic improvements were seen in patients with higher stem cell counts. 

The original publication can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/stem.1845/epdf

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